Tag Archives: playwriting

Interview

Head over to Christine Rains’s blog for an interview with me + a freebie!

I should add that I originally conceived of “St. Peter in Chains” as a stage play but wrote it in novella form first, then adapted a stage version and a screenplay. I was told by a couple theatre directors that it would be difficult to do on stage but might be ideal for film.

It’s funny, but I do find it easier (faster, really) to write in prose and then adapt to other media. Sitting down to write something flat out as a screenplay is more difficult for me, though I have done and can do it. For stage work, I can go either way. My reasons for doing “St. Peter” in prose first was to work through Peter’s range of emotions so I’d be able to give the actors enough to work with later.

I don’t direct in my writing. Some directors love that, and some hate it, and some are just confused by it. But we were taught in screenwriting class not to call the shots—literally. That’s the director’s job, and later the editor’s job: to make it look right in the end. As a screenwriter (and playwright), I feel it’s my job to tell a good story, and to give the actors/characters enough material to make it work. So I guess I do direct the actors in a subversive way, though I only dictate actions that are key to the plot; mostly my goal is to give them a toolbox of emotions and motivations to help them build and understand their characters.

The result is I sometimes (often, actually) get actors who are very excited by my scripts and directors who have a lot of questions about “how [I] picture” this or that, what I was seeing as I was writing, I suppose. But as a screenwriter it isn’t only my vision that counts, I don’t think, and if I’ve written something well enough, a good director will have a vision of his own as he reads the script. Though I always appreciate collaboration.

“Warm Bodies” at Source Festival DC

Today my 10-minute play will have its first Source Festival showing in Washington DC as part of the “Ethereal Encounters” program. Note I didn’t say it was premiering at Source; it actually had its world premiere in Connecticut last February. I was lucky enough to get to see that show (at Valley Repertory in Enfield), and I’m excited that I’ll be able to see the Source Festival version in a couple weeks (June 23). There will be five performances of “Warm Bodies” over the course of the month. Here’s hoping the actors break, er, all their legs? Somehow that doesn’t seem right . . .

A Scene

HIM and HER lie in bed, on their sides, facing one another.

HER: What are you worried about?

HIM: I’m worried that I’m crazy. Or you are. Or maybe both of us.

HER: If it’s going to be either, it would be better if it were both.

HIM: Why’s that? Two crazy people would be worse than one.

HER: I think your real fear is that I’ll hurt you, or you’ll hurt me. Because deep down that’s your true definition of crazy: a person who hurts another person for no good reason.

HIM: There’s never a good reason.

HER: The person who has a reason always thinks it’s a good one. (beat) I’ll make you a promise, though: I won’t hurt you unless you hurt me first. Then the question becomes: are we both sane? Or are we both crazy?

2012 Goals Update

Here were my goals for 2012, which I posted at the beginning of the year:

  • Finish “St. Peter in Chains”
  • Finish “The K-Pro”
  • Finish the spec script
  • Get at least one more play accepted for production somewhere

Items in green have been completed. Items in yellow-orange are . . . not quite? Let’s put it this way: “Warm Bodies” was accepted for another production (I’ve mentioned its forthcoming Source Festival run), but none of my other plays have been, and that was really my goal. On the flip side, however, I’ve had three flash fiction pieces accepted for publication. That’s something. And “The K-Pro” is half done. I thought it would be a novella, but it’s looking to be a novel, I think.

Now, though, I’ve had a spate of rejections and am also waiting to hear about various screenwriting competitions and such, and I’ve decided to go into a sort of semi-retirement. I haven’t decided yet what that really means for me except that I’m breaking from submitting and probably also from writing, at least at the rate I had been going. I’m teetering on burnout and a bit of depression, so I think it’s better to back away from the cliff. I may write from time to time—more likely dabble than take on anything serious—but I’m not going to make myself feel too guilty if I don’t, either.

This retirement kicks off this coming weekend. I’ll be staying at the Hotel Drisco and going to see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the Red Devil Lounge. Maybe I’ll get inspired. Probably, though, just sotted with wine.

Jane & Emily

(Conceived as a dialogue between Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, both of whom were born in December, though many miles and decades apart.)

JANE: Well, I suppose to have a birthday in December is to be considered a gift to one’s family. It is the season for gifts and giving.

EMILY: Or perhaps one should look at it the other way ’round. That the gift is from your family—your mother foremost—to you. Life is a gift, is it not?

JANE: Well, I’m sure I never asked for it, nor wished it before I was brought into it. Though, as with so many gifts, sometimes you never realize you wanted it until it’s been given to you. And then like a greedy child you hate to part with it.

EMILY: I won’t hate to part with this life.

JANE: Won’t you? I hate to think of all the fun I’ll miss once I’m gone, and all the interesting people I won’t meet, and who won’t have the . . . gift . . . of meeting me.

“Warm Bodies” at Source Festival

My short play “Warm Bodies” has been selected for the Source Festival in Washington DC this summer. It’s being produced with six other 10-minute plays under the banner “Ethereal Encounters” and will be directed by Rick Hammerly. Out of over 600 entries, “Warm Bodies” was one of 18 short plays selected for the festival. Coming on the heels of several recent rejections, this definitely feels like a win.

Schedule of Showings:
Sunday, June 10th at 8pm
Friday, June 15th at 6pm
Tuesday, June 19th at 8pm
Saturday, June 23rd at 1pm
Saturday, June 30th at 4pm

Plays & Agents

I’ve sent out a few queries to agents recently, and I got a nibble, which was encouraging. So I sent her “Warm Bodies” to read, and she liked it. Said she liked the “contemporary voice.” She said she hopes when I next have a full-length work, I’ll send it to her.

I’ll count this as progress. Alas, I tend to write short and sweet plays (my longest don’t run more than 50 pages, about an hour of show time with breaks and set changes), so I don’t know that I’ll ever have a full-length play to send her. It’s been suggested, of course, that I expand something I do have, but . . . While I’ve considered that, I sort of let the story dictate the length when I’m writing, and I’d hate to drag something out that doesn’t need it, just for the sake of length. When you start doing that, you end up with reviews saying the play “starts well but falls off in the middle” or something.

Still, it’s nice that she’s interested, and that she finds something worthwhile enough in my work to want to read more at some point.

“Warm Bodies” Pseudo-Tour & “St. Peter” as Play or Screenplay

I had been hoping someone might review the LabWorks shows so that “Warm Bodies” would have, well, a review of some kind. But I haven’t found anything online. There were plenty of press releases before the shows, and the shows were well attended, too. But I guess maybe there was no press on hand.

Never fear. If you missed the premiere, “Warm Bodies” will still be showing in Texas some time in late spring and in Washington D.C. for the Source Theatre Festival this summer.

Meanwhile, I am working on turning my novella St. Peter in Chains into a stage play as well. Though I’m starting to wonder if it wouldn’t be better as a short film of some kind . . . It’s funny because I originally conceived of it as a play but wrote it as a novella, just to get the plot points smoothed out. But a lot of the story is internal dialogue, difficult to put into a play. I’m scripting it for the moment as written, but I think I’ll have to go back and flesh out a bit of what can’t be seen or easily acted. The reasons I’m wondering about turning it into a screenplay instead are: (a) better ability to focus in on things like reactions, and (b) it wouldn’t hurt to have another script on hand, an original one besides. Could possibly even be a television pilot, but would be more BBC than American television, I think. It’s a quiet story and needs time to build, and American networks are not known for their patience. We’ll see. I’ll finish the stage play and then consider a screen version to boot.

Premiere: “Warm Bodies”

So, finger bandaged (and yes, it IS difficult to type), I went down to Connecticut to see the premiere of “Warm Bodies.” It went well, and I received many complements on the play. It advanced to the finals, and so was performed a second time the next night—alas, it didn’t win, but I’m glad to know many people enjoyed it.

It is a bit strange to hear people saying the words you’ve written because they don’t always say them with the same inflection as you heard in your head when writing them. And yet, theatre being a living medium, the words and works are meant to be fluid and open to interpretation. I figure “Warm Bodies” could be performed by several different theatre companies (and it is slated for just that in coming months), and it might never seem like quite the same play. Very different, then, from writing for film/telly, where the words and actions will be rendered static once they are finished.

Of course you can film a stage play, too, but it will always be a film of one performance, not necessarily a definitive showing.

At any rate, I am glad to have been able to attend the premiere. Met a lot of fun and interesting people and am encouraged in my work.

2012 Goals Revisited

Here were my goals for 2012, which I posted at the beginning of the year:

  • Finish “St. Peter in Chains”
  • Finish “The K-Pro”
  • Finish the spec script
  • Get at least one more play accepted for production somewhere

You’ll notice a couple of them are now yellow/orange, as in “caution light” color. This is because they are in some ways completed, but not really.

For the spec script: last night I finished the first full draft. Huzzah! So that’s “finished” in a way, but I do intend to do some rewrites.

And for the play acceptance, well, “Warm Bodies” got picked up again for another play festival, BUT . . . They are supposed to be sending a contract, so nothing is final yet. Plus, I’d really like a different one of my plays to get accepted for something.

Meanwhile, with a big move in just a few weeks now, I’m glad I’ve at least made this much progress early in the year. Who knows how long it will take to settle down enough to get my momentum back after the cross-country haul?